Letters for March 7, 2023
March 7, 2023 Updated Tue., March 7, 2023 at 8:27 a.m.
Landlords and slumlords
One of two bills on housing passed on Monday evening at the City Council meeting lumped normal landlord-investors together with slumlords. While really targeting slumlord behavior, the bill punishes all landlords.
I am in no way defending slumlords. But with the cost of homelessness running at $35,000-50,000 per year, per person, it’s a bit of a gamble to provoke slumlords. What if the slumlords, after completing the upgrades required in the bill, upgrade their properties and sell them off? Or raise the rent on their newly upgraded properties? No one can stop them. Is the council’s ace in the hole to build more shelter space to replace slumlord accommodations?
It’s just my opinion, but I think landlord-investors and their advisers know a lot more about the housing market than City Council and their advisers. But if you had been at the council meeting on Monday, you would know the council is not listening to successful landlord-investors. They seemed to only hear the angry voices at council meetings who have no resources to build new housing. Great idea to build over underutilized parking lots, but having lost the trust of landlord-investors, who will build that housing? Nonprofits and housing advocates can’t build it all.
Vows to end homelessness and build low-cost housing mean zero, nada, nothing, unless we address the problem at the top of the housing system.
Buyers in Washington and Idaho have to overcome prices driven up by outlandish cash bids from out -of -state interests. When working people are outbid and forced to rent, that drives up rental prices and taxes. That in turn carries all the way down the rental market until someone at the bottom will wind up on the street. It’s a system and subsidized housing is just a Band -Aid in that broken system.
The elephant in the kitchen is wealth inequality. That’s not to blame the local millionaire or even those of us who just want to make some money. Local retirees or business owners with a couple of rental properties are not the problem. Most of us are in this together. The person trying to relocate for a job, the couple seeking a rental, the local owner of an apartment complex or the family living under a bridge are all victims of a larger system where a very few unseen, far-away people are so extremely wealthy it raises prices and limits the American dream for all of us.
In a country where the fabulously wealthy pay the least taxes but benefit the most from society, the only lasting answers must be systemic property, investment and income tax structures that give the rest of us a working chance to come home.
Madsen fighting against decency
How typical of Sue Lani Madsen to lead off her opinion piece (“HB 1333 and the Church of Wokeism,” March 2) by using a right -wing dog whistle concept, “wokeism” in an attempt to rile up people of little information.
As often as conservative politicians and pundits use the term “woke,” I have yet to hear or read them provide a definition of woke. As I understand, being woke is to have a conscience and be aware of the systemic injustice, inequity, racism, classism and sexism in our society that causes suffering of others, and to try to stop such beliefs and practices.
Ms. Madsen seems to be saying that she is against disinformation, yet Ms. Madsen even goes so far as to compare a bill targeting domestic terrorism with a public policy used to combat COVID that saved thousands of lives. She asks who gets to decide what statements are misinformation. I suggest a good first step is to understand that what Fox News broadcasts are lies, as even the owner of Fox News has admitted.
Disinformation, Sue Lani? That sums up your opinion piece. The Church of Wokeism, Sue Lani? How about calling it decency and common sense?
Civility out the window?
It was such a sad and intimidating experience to go to the Spokane City Council hearing recently to testify at a hearing on a new Ordinance C-36330, a law, now two laws regulating landlords, that could cause huge problems to all property owners in the city of Spokane.
Walking up to the entrance to City Hall, we were met with hostile signs reading “Greedy Landlords” and other nasty greetings. Inside City Hall, more signs, more hostile tenants. Inside the chambers, tenants with matching shirts reading “Rent Control” which was not supposed to be the topic of the proposed bill. Council President Beggs lectured us on the rules, primarily “be respectful,” then he and the council ignored the disrespectful tenants’ union supporters standing up each time we landlords got up to speak, turning their backs on us.
The tenants’ testimonies were large, negative and angry. We tried to state our case, but were mocked. All costs – repairs, evictions of destroyer tenants, taxes, fees and now fines – are rising for our businesses. That is in addition to building in the first place, we built a duplex that houses four people for over $400,000 several years ago. Where is the “thank you” for our investment in our community?